Ferrari Sydney D1E
Ferrari Sydney

Ferrari 296 GTB: The revolutionary new formula for fun

By Mike Huynh

Times are changing fast for supercars as the era of electrification begins to take precedence. Rather than conceding defeat with the gradual demise of the internal combustion engine, Ferrari is instead choosing to innovate with the best of both worlds today. This bold approach culminates in the latest 296 GTB, a stunning evolution of Ferrari’s mid-rear-engined two-seater sports Berlinetta concept.

What makes this new model unique is the trade-off of cylinders and tradition for the combination of Ferrari’s new 120-degree V6 engine coupled with a plug-in (PHEV) electric motor. The combined power output? A Staggering 610kW and 740Nm of torque. Purists who yearn for the days of the Maranello outfit’s screaming V8 and V12 engines will find peace in a new supercar that’s capable of delivering pure exhilaration at the maximum limit while still being able to drive home comfortably afterwards.

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Exploring the new heart

While the svelte body lines of any new Ferrari are often the first to garner attention, in the 296 GTB’s case, it’s the newly developed power unit.

The 296 GTB is the first Ferrari road car to utilise a V6 turbo with a vee with an angle of 120 degrees between the cylinder banks, coupled with a plug-in electric motor. True to Ferrari’s F1 roots, the turbo units have been designed and engineered to be positioned within the vee architecture which results in a much more compact engine package. The flow-on advantages are tailored for peak driving performance: a lower centre of gravity, less engine mass and extremely high levels of power. And that’s just the beginning.  

Flexible performance and usability are where the model truly shines, with the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system affording the car a respectable range of up to 25km in its all-electric eDrive mode. Even the batteries are strategically placed under the floor in the chassis to minimise volume and weight. The electric motor handles multiple roles from charging the high-voltage battery to turning on the internal combustion engine to supplying it with additional power and torque. 

When it comes time to exploit the car’s potential, drivers can experience the instantaneous throttle response backed by the state-of-the-art engine which sends all the power to the rear wheels via the tried and tested 8-speed DCT – the same transmission found in the SF90 Stradale, Ferrari Roma, Portofino M and SF90 Spider.

Advanced driving dynamics

The 296 GTB isn’t intended to be an all-out race car that’s unusable for public roads. Ferrari wanted to deliver true driver engagement through pure performance while leveraging the key features that the new architecture brings: V6 engine, hybrid powertrain and a shorter wheelbase. Needless to say, Ferrari has succeeded with the dynamic driving capabilities of the 296 GTB. Ferrari placed a lot of emphasis on its internal ‘fun to drive’ factor which is measured with five indicators: Lateral (response to steering wheel inputs); Longitudinal (throttle response speed); Gear Shifts (sensation of coherent shifts); Braking (optimised brake pedal feel); and Sound (level and quality of engine sound within the cabin.

Other performance driving appointments include a brake-by-wire system, ‘Aero’ brake callipers, electric power steering, rear active aero and CM-Frs magnetorheological dampers. And thanks to a host of lightweight measures across materials, the 296 GTB weighs in at only 1,470kg – a class-leading figure in regards to the overall weight-to-power ratio. 

On-road dynamism is achieved through Ferrari’s power management selector called ‘eManettino’. Its four positions allow drivers to select the right power method depending on the driving conditions.  

eDrive: The internal combustion engine is off and there is pure electric drive to the rear wheels. A fully-charged battery can cover 25 km at a maximum speed of 135 km/h.

Hybrid: This is the default mode on ignition. The power flows are managed for maximum efficiency and the control logic defines the intervention of the internal combustion engine. With the engine on, the car develops its maximum power and performance.

Performance: The internal combustion engine is always on and helps maintain the battery efficiency to ensure full power at all times. This is the ideal setting for press-on driving.

Qualify: This mode provides maximum performance but at the expense of lower battery recharging.

Striking aesthetics in a compact design

The design ethos behind the 296 GTB is precise. The Ferrari Styling Centre wanted to redefine the identity of the mid-rear-engined two-seater Berlinetta by giving it an extremely compact line paired with an original yet modern look. The result is a sleek monolithic silhouette paired with a shorter wheelbase which maintains a staunch masculine stance. Beautiful yet brutal, a persona formed with just a single pencil stroke. 

On the inside, Ferrari wanted to once again showcase a cockpit concept of an entirely digital interface which first appeared in the SF90 Stradale. Class, refinement and purity are echoed when the engine is off as all the onboard instruments go black to enhance the minimalist look of the cabin. Exclusive Italian leather adorns the seats and its trim is further enhanced by the contemporary technical materials used on all of the functional components. The perfect marriage of beauty and brains best describes the aesthetics of the 296 GTB. 

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